Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Superhero, action, comedy
Opens Friday, January 14th, 2011 everywhere (also in 3D and IMAX)
Run Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Cameron Diaz, Christoph Waltz
Directed by Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Be Kind Rewind)
There does exist great super-hero, comic book movies...Spider-Man 2, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight. There are also way too many horribly bad super-hero, comic book movies...Catwoman, Batman & Robin, Elektra. Then, there are those marginal super-hero, comic book movies that fall somewhere in-between, that aren't all-together crappy but exist if nothing else as mindless entertainment, instantly forgettable and somewhat serving as a let-down to the original material. "The Green Hornet" falls into this forgettable middle category...far from good, but with enough mediocre moments to make it a passable low-brow popcorn flick.
Background. You may have heard that The Green Hornet began as a radio show in the 1930s...what you may not have known is that it originated on a local Detroit radio station...along with The Lone Ranger among others. There was also some early Green Hornet films in the 40s, but the duo of The Green Hornet and his sidekick Kato are mostly remembered from the 1960s TV series, The Green Hornet. The Green Hornet also lived in comic books dating from the 40s and into recent years.
Now, many super-heroes have awful, laughable backstories, and to me, there is nearly nothing lamer than The Green Hornet. He is a young publisher who decides to fight crime, vigilante-style. You see, (gasp!) his schtick is that he's a good guy, who poses as a bad guy, who fights other bad guys. I guess you could say he was ahead of his time, in comparison to the bright shiny superheroes like Superman. But still the character has always lacked real motivation, and the more interesting character was always sidekick Kato, who was a bad-ass karate expert well, because he's Asian right, so therefore knows martial-arts.
The Sting of Mediocrity. The new movie takes this lame concept of The Green Hornet and sets it as the backdrop of what is really a Seth Rogen comedy. He plays our hero/vigilante Britt Reid, who inherits his father's publishing company after an untimely death. He partners with Kato, who was his father's mechanic, and together they decide to fight crime and make headlines...Don't concern yourself with questions like "why?", as there are no answers to be found. From there, the film has no concept of what it is, or what it is trying to accomplish, and flips back and forth from a screwball comedy to a mindless action romp. It does neither very well.
Hints of Color. The movie begins on a brilliantly funny note, with a cameo from someone who has appeared often with Seth Rogen in the past, but I won't ruin the surprise here. Also, the movie's villain is Christoph Waltz, the amazingly awesome bad-ass Nazi bad guy from Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. He is again the highlight of the film here, playing a villain with some serious insecurity issues, and an unpronouncable name that seriously crimps the scary villain vibe he's shooting for. The problem is, the opening scene doesn't last long enough, and Waltz's character just simply isn't on screen enough...In a movie called "The Green Hornet", it was the bad guy whom I cared about seeing more.
But if you go to see this movie, I'm betting you aren't drawn in by the plot...which is fortunate. It's just that when a plot, and believable characters, and real situations are actually present (re: Spider-Man 2 for example), the end result is just so much better. The Green Hornet has none of these.
Soylent Green. Aside from that, The Green Hornet is also a great example of awful 3D. My advice: If you see the film, skip the 3D and the IMAX, as they will be a huge waste of time and money. Some movies, such as Tangled, you can tell were conceptualized in 3D. The Green Hornet looks as if this extra dimension was added about a week ago in order to garner more box office dollars. Save the extra bucks for a better movie.
The Green Hornet isn't even the best movie opening this week with a color in the title (see Blue Valentine), and may not even be the best super-hero, comic book movie with the word "Green" in the title (see The Green Lantern coming out later this year). But hey, it's January, and if you are craving summertime cinematic slop a few months early, by all means, go green.
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